I believe the relationship between violin teacher and student is a partnership. I consider the violin my voice, my internal emotion communicator with the world, my storytelling conduit. I strive to achieve the satisfaction of seeing my students gain this same feeling of connection and come to be at home with their instrument.
I believe that anyone can learn to play the violin if they are physically flexible, open to new ideas, detail-oriented and willing to put in the work practicing. If a player has a talent for musical communication then he/she also needs a positive, detailed mindset to deal with the multifaceted parts to learning and mastering the instrument.
I teach the whole student, paying close to attention to social cues as to whether that student needs to be pushed in a particular direction or needs to take a break from the task at hand. If a break is needed, I will go on to a new idea and at a later time circle back around to the place where we felt stuck, sometimes in the lesson, sometimes in a later lesson. I do not force a student to do what they cannot do, but try different approaches until something clicks.
I am constantly working on the balance of insisting on proper violin technique and keeping the interest and confidence of the student up through every stage of their development. I insist that the student memorize each piece before starting the next piece. I love to fix things such as violin technique, knowing that sometimes one idea, one word, will result in a beautifully engaged tone, sound and great intonation from my students.
I believe that my students should take command of their playing at every stage of development:
Beginning students are given Mystery tunes: musical puzzles for reading and repertoire expansion. These students are also asked to invent new variations on Twinkle, or words for counting rhythms. I sometimes ask a student to compose a tune and we will work on the harmony part together, so that we have another duet to play. I have beginning students first learn by ear and then read the excerpt we learned, always in the same lesson.
Intermediate students are encouraged to create music of their own and bring music that they love to the lesson, in order to expand our music repertoire.
With advanced and pre professional students, not only do we work on becoming a most consistent artist on the instrument, we seek out professional opportunities, such as workshops for networking, playing in local orchestras and mentoring less advanced students. There is a lot to talk about when making decisions about how a player is going to be a musician and artist. Are they interested in performing in an orchestra? in a chamber group? Do they enjoy teaching? What types of students are they drawn to as teachers? Thinking about these questions will help focus the student’s efforts towards success.
Finally, I believe that each student is different. There is a set of standard techniques for playing the violin, but each player has a unique voice, tonal color and range of emotion.
I teach all levels of students. I find that starting students on the violin is the most revealing about my own education on the violin and I appreciate the lessons that I learn from teaching these beginning students. Beginning students tend to inform my teaching of the Intermediate and Advanced students, as we always seem to have to go back to basics before we can master new challenges on the instrument.